Remote work has pushed the boundaries of possibilities. Previously, interaction with colleagues outside the office was nonexistent, and team members communicated and collaborated in real time.
The way the world has now transitioned to remote work opportunities, it called into question the legitimacy and efficacy of the remote work environment and whether it will be able to sustain a collaborative work environment or not. Fortunately, remote work has provided ample opportunities for easy communication and frequent interaction.
Asynchronous communication, in particular, is how teams stay connected while working from different parts of the world.
Instant communication is a given in present times. In times like these, opting for asynchronous communication might seem like a bad option. However, if synchronous and asynchronous communication is paired the right way, you can reap plenty of benefits and higher work efficiency.
Before we move on any further, let’s take a look at what asynchronous and synchronous communication is and how they are different from one another.
What Is Asynchronous Communication?
Asynchronous communication is when you can communicate without the requirement that the interaction is in “real-time”. This type of communication runs contrary to synchronous communication wherein you communicate instantly or have immediate responses.
With individuals working in different time zones, scheduling a meeting or real-time interaction with everyone in attendance is too difficult. Asynchronous communication, however, liberates you from the menace of instant communication.
You can send a text without expecting a reply from the other individual. Similarly, the receiver can read and reply to your message as and when they can. The absence of restrictions can and does add to your productivity and efficiency, making it 100 times easier to stay connected with the team.
What Are the Examples of Asynchronous Communication?
Here are a few examples of the asynchronous type of communication for a better understanding:
- Messages: You can also send messages to your teammates and wait for a reply when they find time to do so.
- Emails: Emails can be sent to the receiver without expecting instant replies. Receivers can read and reply to the email as and when they like.
- Recorded Videos: Recorded videos are great at sending your message across without interacting one-on-one.
- Google Docs: With google docs, different individuals can work on a document without having to do it together at the same time. Each individual can add or subtract to the document at their own time.
What Is Synchronous Communication?
In opposition to asynchronous communication, where the parties involved do not have to interact in real-time, synchronous communication requires active interaction simultaneously. This entails instant messaging, prompt replies, and no gaps in conversation.
With synchronous communication, you communicate instantly with team members and receive immediate replies.
Before remote work became common, synchronous communication included impromptu chats, conference room meetings, and physical interaction. That said, real-time interaction did not take a hit when businesses shifted to remote work, why? Because there are plenty of opportunities that allow employees to interact with one another in real time.
From Microsoft Teams which allows you to chat with employees to Slack which offers video conferencing features, employees have tons of tools that can help them stay in touch with each other.
What Are the Examples of Synchronous Communication?
Some examples of synchronous communication are:
- Online meetings with everyone in attendance
- Text chats
- Phone calls
What Is the Main Difference Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication?
The main difference between both is time.
For synchronous communication, the conversation must occur in real time with both participants in attendance. The asynchronous mode of communication, in contrast, can take place anytime. Instant interaction between the sender and the receiver is not required.
With the advent of various communication channels, we have become increasingly attuned to synchronous communication, whether on-site or remote work; instantaneous communication has become a norm.
While staying in contact all the time might have its benefits, there can be some disadvantages too. Let’s take a look at how synchronous communication can make things difficult for you.
Cons of Communication in Real-Time:
While real-time interaction has plenty of benefits, here’s how it can affect your efficiency and productivity:
1. Difficulty Aligning Schedules Across Different Time Zones
Synchronous communication demands real-time interaction and availability. While it may work for an on-site team, it might not work for a team working remotely. Aligning everyone’s schedule in different time zones is too difficult a task.
Also, some team members might have to stay up late or wake up early to participate, which will inevitably disturb their whole schedule.
2. Disruption In the Flow of Work
It is believed that staying in touch translates into smooth working. Real-time messaging, phone calls, and meetings can disrupt workflow. This can negatively impact employees’ productivity.
3. Loss Of Time
Synchronous communication takes up a lot of time. Employees will have to stop the work at hand, shift their attention and reply to you. Resuming the same focus on tasks will take up time. This can lead to time loss.
4. Inefficiency And Lower Productivity
Synchronous communication can sometimes lead to subpar work and inefficient decision-making. Over the past few years, the time spent on virtual meetings has increased to almost 10 hours a week.
According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, 71% of respondents are of the opinion that virtual meetings are inefficient and unproductive, while 64% believe that these meetings are conducted at the expense of deep thinking, leading to inefficient decisions.
Let us now take a look at how asynchronous communication can improve your efficiency.
What Are the Advantages of Asynchronous Type of Communication?
The best thing about going asynchronous is that it effectively solves all the abovementioned problems. Let’s take a look at how it does that:
1. Offers Flexibility Across Time Zones
Going asynchronous works like a charm for remote and hybrid teams. It offers the flexibility to communicate in your time zone without sacrificing your overall schedule. Team members from any part of the world can stay connected to the team, without interacting in real time.
Plus, team members do not have to modify their schedule every time they receive a meeting invite, an email, or a text message. Their schedule does not have to revolve around maintaining smooth communication channels and real-time responses. In contrast, they have the flexibility to move around their schedule however they like.
2. Maintains Flow of Work
Remember how synchronous communication disrupts with frequent calls, meetings, etc. interrupting your work on and off. Well, with the asynchronous mode of communication you can say goodbye to all sorts of hindrances.
The way asynchronous communication works is that team members can maintain their workflow without having to take a break or shift their focus to reply to emails or messages. PMs can send emails, messages, etc., and allow team members to read and respond to them at their own convenience.
This means they can complete the task at hand or accomplish their daily goals first and then come back to their inbox, etc.
3. Effective Communication
One of the best things about this mode of communication is that you can get rid of meaningless chatter and communicate the necessary. With features that allow PMS to edit their responses or schedule their emails for a later time, asynchronous communication offers more meaningful communication.
PMs can also review the content of their messages after sending them and edit or add information as seen fit.
4. Helps Maintain Focus and Attention
Since asynchronous communication promptly gets rid of unwanted calls, emails, and messages, employees can maintain their focus on the tasks at hand. It entails a long time of focused attention which will ultimately add to the productivity and efficiency of work.
Employees can work better and faster with attention zeroed in on the task. As a result, the work produced is of high quality and is delivered on time.
5. Gives More Control to Employees
With the freedom to communicate at their convenience, employees have the freedom to schedule their work however they like. Synchronous communication, on the opposite, requires availability at certain times. Employees, then, have to schedule their work around the same time, which may cause some inconvenience.
Once employees gain control over their schedule and how they are going to go about it, they can optimize their performance and improve the way they work for the better.
6. Creates Transparency
With synchronous communication, you can exchange tons of messages, notes, etc. in real-time. All things aside, important messages can get lost in the sea of instant messages, leaving you to search through the entire conversation to get to the important parts.
Going asynchronous, however, means all communication is documented. Be it important emails, videos, or recordings, you can get back to them with a single click.
7. Better Decision-Making
Earlier, we talked about how impromptu communication can sometimes lead to inefficient decision-making that may not be in your best interest. In contrast, the asynchronous mode allows you to deliberate on your decisions and come up with the best possible decisions for the benefit of your business.
With the freedom to send responses at a later time, employees can also think about all they want before sending their responses.
8. Higher Productivity and Efficiency
In the end, it all trickles down to improving efficiency and productivity, and thankfully, going asynchronous is the way to do that. With all distractions out of your way, freedom to schedule your work the way you want, and better communication, asynchronous communication leads to increased productivity and efficiency.
Mind you the progress is not limited to your team or your employees only, it ultimately benefits the business too.
It’s All About Finding the Right Balance:
Synchronous communication has its drawback but so does asynchronous communication. Sometimes, you have to have immediate interaction with your team members, or a meeting is necessary to align everyone’s goals and offer clarity. It’s not about one over the other, or this is better than that, but finding the right balance between both.
At other times, you can welcome delayed responses, offering flexibility to your employees. Once you have found the right balance between the two, you can reap many benefits and make work more fun for you and your teammates.
Let us know how it works for you.
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